For so many people I see for skin the one thing that can really be of concern is their pores. There are hundreds of products out there marketed towards shrinking large pores. But do they work? And more importantly, do we even NEED those products?

If you believe the skincare ads, everyone wants pores so tiny they can’t be seen, as well as pores that aren’t blocked or clogged. You may wonder how you can reduce the size of your pores, and whether you can simply eliminate them. But pores keep your skin and body healthy—and if blocked, can contribute to acne, congestion and breakouts.

My intention here is to educate to you the important role our pores play in our skin’s function, and dispel some of the myths out there in the big wide world of the interwebs.

Here are a few questions I’m asked regularly in the clinic:

I hate my open pores! How can I shrink them?

My pores are clogged! How can I un clog them?

Does it mean I have oily skin because I have open pores?

Myth: Your pores open and close

Fact: Pores aren’t like a door, they do not open and close BUT they can dilate.

Steaming your skin, using nose strips or a face mask that bubbles when you apply it will not open or close your pores. Pores are prominent opening on the skin that contain a hair follicle and sebaceous gland underneath them. The sebaceous gland is responsible for producing an oil called sebum that lubricates your skin. 

Sometimes, those sebaceous glands can go into overdrive, especially in an oily skin where sebum can build up under the surface, leading to pores being dilated when the opening becomes clogged and the oil has no exit. You may have been led to believe that steaming your face will open pores, but what really happens in this situation is that the heat may cause excess pore build up to loosen and rise to the surface.

Myth: Every pore is a black head

Fact: A pore is an opening on the skin. A blackhead is the build up of oil and dirt in that pore.

Black heads occur when dead skin cells block the opening of a pore and make it difficult for the oil being produced by the sebaceous gland to exit. The trapped oil causes the opening of the pore to dilate and bring oil to the surface. Once that oil makes contact with the air, it oxidizes and gets that blackish colour.

Myth: People with dry skin don’t have problems with blackheads or large pores

Fact: Black heads present in all skin types, and while they may be more common in oily skin types, they can also be present when someone has dry skin.

Your pores play a vital role in your skin

We all have pores. Some more visible than others, but I’m willing to bet if you got up close and personal with the person next to you, you’d be able to see their pores (especially around the nose).

Most people with large pores are simply born that way, but certain bad habits can impact the size of our pores. Also, as we age our skin loses elasticity, which can impact our pore size. Finally, hormonal periods like puberty, pregnancy and menstruation can cause an overproduction of oil, which may make pores appear larger.

There are Two Types of Skin Pores: oil pores and sweat pores.

Oil pores: This type of pore is connected to an oil gland. You have these over the entire surface of your skin, except for the skin on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. It’s the oil pores that capture most of our attention because they can be large enough to be seen. When people talk about having large pores or blocked pores, they are typically referring to the oil pores.

Sweat pores: You also have sweat pores all over your entire skin, but you typically can’t see these pores with the naked eye. Sweat pores are really tiny. When overactive, these pores can cause excessive sweating, known as hyperhidrosis.

How Healthy Pores Work

Your oil pores play an important role in keeping the skin supple, moisturized, and healthy. You don’t want to stop production of sebum or shrink away pores, but rather to keep them functioning normally to have healthy skin.

Sweat pores work in much the same way. These pores allow for sweat to travel from the sudoriferous glands (sweat glands) to the surface of the skin. Sweat helps you maintain your body temperature by evaporative cooling. Sweat glands come in two varieties. The eccrine glands produce most of your sweat. The apocrine glands in your armpits and groin produce a thicker and oilier type of sweat that is prone to causing body odour.

So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we cannot close our pores.

We CAN, however, help minimise their appearance with a healthy diet and lifestyle, daily use of an SPF, and great skin care that doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils. We also recommend you change your makeup, if you’re not already using products recommended to you by your skin therapist.

Home rolling is a great treatment along with corneotheraputic skin care will not close your pores, but help to minimise their appearance. Basically, keeping your pores clean, hydrated and protected can reduce their appearance.

Our team of Skin Mentors can help you choose the skincare and makeup products that are best for your skin type. Get in contact today to book your Skin Discovery Session.